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Huascar

For the Peruvian warship, see Huáscar (ironclad).

Huáscar
Sapa Inca (13th)
Inca emperor
Reign 1527–1532
Born 1491
Birthplace Huascarpata
Died 1533
Place of death Cusco
Predecessor Ninan Cuyochi (only a few days)
Successor Atahualpa
Dynasty Hanan Cuzco
Father Huayna Capac

Huáscar Inca (Quechua: Waskar Inka, of uncertain meaning, said to be related to his birthplace Huascarpata; 1503–1532) was Sapa Inca of the Inca empire from 1527 to 1532 AD, succeeding his father Huayna Capac and brother Ninan Cuyochi, both of whom died of smallpox while campaigning near Quito.

The actual events that brought about Huáscar's succession are unclear. Conflicting factions and the fact that the Spanish chroniclers' accounts stemmed from the winners of the ensuing civil war led to conflicting versions of what actually happened. Thus although he named the infant Ninan Cuyochi as his first heir but sources differ as to whether the boy died first, was unacceptable because of an unfavorable divination, or even if Huayna simply forgot that he had named him when asked to confirm the nomination. In any event a second choice was requested and again sources vary. He may have named Huáscar's half-brother Atahualpa who then refused, or named Huascar himself, or perhaps even the nobles put forward Huáscar.[1] Whatever the truth, the result of Huáscar's accession and the dispute over it before and after lead to civil war between Huáscar (made Emperor by a faction based in Cuzco) and Atahualpa (backed by leaders who were based in the north with Huayna).[2]

The Spanish chronicler Juan de Betanzos who provided with information pertaining to the Huáscar-Atahualpa civil war outlines Huáscar's tyranny. This is however a very biased account, as Betanzos's wife, on whose testimony much of his chronicle is based was previously married to Atahualpa. Betanzos outlines how Huáscar would seize his lords' wives if they took his fancy. More importantly, he seized both the Lands of the Previous Incas and the Lands of the Sun. In Inca society, the lands of previous dead Incas remained part of their household to support their divine-like cult. Similarly lands were reserved for the worship of the Sun. In this way, Huáscar's seizure represented his disrespect and insensitivity for Inca religion. Huáscar then declared war on Atahualpa. The battles reported by Betanzos talk of Quizquiz (Atahualpa's commander) leading armies of 100,000 men with armies of 60,000 men supporting Huáscar. This demonstrates the numerical potential of Inca armies. Betanzos's account also enlightens us on the bloody nature of Inca wars. Atahualpa's punishment of the Canares saw him rip the hearts from their chiefs and force their followers to eat them, as well as killing babies in the wombs of pregnant women. The war was uncompleted, with Atahualpa in the clear ascendancy on Pizarro's arrival. However it was partly due to the ongoing civil war that Pizarro was able to triumph. Firstly, the Inca armies were depleted from the civil war. Secondly, disunity can be demonstrated by Huáscar's celebrations and in the celebrations of the province of Cuzco (loyalists to Huáscar) at Atahualpa's capture. Furthermore, Atahualpa had Huáscar killed so that he was not in a position to offer Pizarro a larger ransom of gold than Atahualpa was offering for his own release.

Notes

See also

  • Huascarán, highest peak in Peru and named for Huáscar
Preceded by
Ninan Cuyochi
Sapa Inca
1527–1532
Succeeded by
Atahualpa
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